NRF2020 is less than a week away, and the Retail TouchPoints team is sending its full editorial team to cover the hottest sessions and gather insight on the top new trends and solutions for 2020. Leading retail and tech CEOs including Best Buy’s Corie Barry, Starbucks’ Kevin Johnson, Kohl’s Michelle Gass and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella lead a stellar group of executives speaking at the event, revealing their “2020 Vision” to thousands of attendees.
The Retail TouchPoints editors share what they are most looking forward to at the NRF2020 Big Show.
Adam Blair, Editor: One thing I always look forward to at the NRF Big Show is the Innovation Lab. It’s the place where I’ve met robots face to face, gotten the low-down on visual search and stepped into a bit of augmented reality. Beyond the fascinating tech showcased by the exhibitors there, the Innovation Lab also was the site of a session that first alerted me to the potential dangers of AI. I’m not talking about an Arnold Schwarzenegger-style Terminator roaring back from the future, but the present-day ethical difficulties of keeping deep-set human biases out of the algorithms that power artificial intelligence and machine learning. It’s the old Garbage In-Garbage Out from the early days of computer coding, but supercharged with the mystique of AI. Artificial intelligence is already an incredibly useful tool, but ultimately it needs to support human judgment — not supplant it.
Glenn Taylor, Senior Editor: There’s always something new to learn about at NRF, and a portion of what goes on at the event sets the tone for the rest of the year. One panel I will be attending shares prospects and perspectives on the U.S. economy in 2020, and their likely effects on retail. Considering I’ve moderated financial panels at the past two RIC events and anticipate moderating a similar panel this year, I need all the insight I can get on the financial/business outlook for the rest of the year. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing about some of the potential macro headwinds that could affect the economy (ongoing China trade issues and the recent geopolitical tensions in Iran come to mind here), as well as the smaller issues that exist within each retail sector. Either way, NRF2020 is shaping up to be an exciting event and I anticipate there will be additional surprises to keep an eye out for.
Bryan Wassel, Associate Editor: I’m excited to cover the opening keynote at NRF, which will feature Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. The company has been on the cutting edge of retail for a while now, offering everything from cloud services to “connected store” experiences, and it seems like Microsoft is involved in partnerships with just about every retailer that’s shown even the slightest interest in innovation. I get to interview a lot of retail executives, analysts and solution providers in my job, but it will be particularly interesting to get perspectives on the retail industry from someone watching the tech side from a lofty viewpoint, to learn where he thinks technology is going to head next. I can’t say I know exactly what topics he’ll bring up, but I’ll definitely keep my ears open to learn about the hottest trends of the near future.